Thursday, June 1, 2017

Going Back to My Roots with a Simple Little Travel Journal

Fred and I celebrated forty happy years of marriage this past winter, and we decided it would be fun to take a little trip down memory lane and go back to where we met, married, and lived as newlyweds. Our celebratory getaway was delayed a few weeks due to our schedules, but the stars finally aligned and we hit the road for Annapolis, MD, one sunny spring day. 

Gel pen & Pitt Artist's pen in a 4"x6" Stillman & Birn Alpha hardcover sketchbook

I wasn't planning to do a lot of sketching, but I took my little 4" x 6" Stillman and Birn Alpha hardcover sketchbook along just in case. Good thing I did, because after we headed out, I was feeling so relaxed and happy (and antsy, because I can't sit still in the car doing nothing!) that I pulled out my sketchbook and laid out the first couple of pages of a travel journal about our anniversary trip. After all, it was the big 4-0, and that's something worth commemorating!

Gelly Roll metallic gel pens + Pitt pen

Instead of fussing over the pages like I do in my larger sketchbooks, I just cut loose and had fun. It was play time!


I wasn't trying to make anything perfect. I didn't agonize over finding just the right lettering style, and I didn't worry about what anyone would think about my sketches. I didn't plan on ever showing them to anyone. They were just for me and Fred.


But I've decided to share them with you to show you a different side of my sketching style, one that's simpler and less "designed". It's more spontaneous and whimsical.


I think part of the reason I felt free to paint like this when we were away was the fact that 1) I wasn't planning to show them to anyone, and 2) I was using a small 4x6 sketchbook. With a small sketchbook, it doesn't feel IMPORTANT. There's not much time invested in each little page. There's not a lot of risk if I mess up.


I really enjoyed playing in my sketchbook over the course of our few days in Annapolis. It taught me an important lesson - that sometimes striving to be too perfect can suck the joy out of something. Sure, my other sketchbook pages are beautiful, but there's something so charming and real about this little journal of our weekend getaway.


This is more along the lines of how I used to sketch before I had a blog and began showing my work and teaching workshops, and before I started caring a little too much about impressing people with what I can do.
 

This journal has rekindled something in me that was being snuffed out by my overzealous pursuit of becoming ever better. It has reminded me that I need to relax more and just have fun with my art.


I've had time to think about all this as I worked on painting these little sketches at home. And I decided to share my thoughts with you in the hopes that they might encourage you, too, to relax into your sketching, to go with the flow and play around with pen and paint, not worrying about the outcome, not comparing yourself with anyone else, just responding in a creative way to the little moments that make up your amazing life. 


  



It was a wonderful trip for us in so many ways, remembering those early days of our marriage and marveling at the changes we've seen as we raised a family together and survived moves, job changes, house building, health challenges, and so much more. Through all the ups and downs, we've had each other, and that's all we ever really needed.


20 comments:

  1. Leslie, I love your honesty, talent and goodness. Thanks for all your amazing teaching, generous sharing of your knowledge and for the reminder to relax and enjoy our sketching.¸ Happy Anniversary to you and Fred and I look forward to seeing your 50th Anniversary journal. Linda

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    1. You're welcome, Linda. I appreciate your encouragement so much!

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  2. Leslie, this is soooooo charming and a wonderful remembrance for you and your family. Love that you are able to do both elaborate and relaxed sketching. You are so talented. Thanks Betty

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    1. Yeah, it's fun to do both, depending on what mood I'm in. I guess I shouldn't think of one style as being better or more accomplished than the other. Both styles are just a reflection of how I'm feeling at the time I design the page, and what kind of mood I'm in. I always did get bored sticking with one thing for too long.

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  3. So glad you decided to share your simple little sketchbook and the rediscovery of joy. This is a breath of fresh air, and an important reminder in so many ways. It's still lovely and charming too!

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    1. Thanks, Katie, I'm glad you liked it and took the time to comment. Makes me feel good. :)

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  4. First of all CONGRATULATIONS on your significant 40th anniversary! We're just tailing you by 2 years and our pizza preferences would match you and your husband's! I am so glad that you shared these pages from your trip to Annapolis. I certainly recognize the sites as we visited there numerous times while my oldest son was at the Naval Academy. I've sketched a few scenes there myself, including the Chapel, over the years. Galway Bay was one of our special spots too. Your pages are charming and they have re-lit an excitement within me about our trips there, and also rekindled my own interest to sketch and paint. I'm coming off nearly 4 months of inactivity due to a broken thumb, but your post has inspired me to pick up my pen, brush, and paint again and just capture whatever tickles me in the moment. Thanks for sharing! Enjoy your memories of your last 40 years together, your Anniversary celebration, and many years going forward. <3.

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    1. Isn't Galway Bay wonderful? They offered to make me gluten-free crab cakes, and then they were all so excited about it that they were talking about adding them to their menu. They were so friendly and sweet. Honestly, that's one of the biggest reasons I can't wait to return to Annapolis - to go back to Galway Bay! And you've made me so happy when you said that this post inspired you to get back into sketching. Maybe that's the reason I was led to share it. Be gentle with yourself as you ease back into it. I always tell my students that they should encourage themselves just as they would someone sitting next to them. We always look for something good to compliment when we see someone else's work, but with our own, we often tend to look for the spots where it falls short. We need to be kinder to ourselves. Have fun and sketch something happy tomorrow!

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  5. Congrats to you and your husband! Thank you so much for your generosity in sharing your talent with us, and for being so genuine.

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  6. Happy 40th, Leslie and Fred! That looks like it was such a nice getaway. I’m so glad you decided to share your anniversary journal. It’s still completely YOU, charming and beautiful and joyous; it just reveals some additional facets, like whimsical and fun and relaxed! Perfectionism so often comes from a good place, like wanting to do our best, but it sure can take on a life of its own if we aren’t mindful of its path. I’m happy you were able to give striving a rest so you could enjoy playing. :-)

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    1. "Striving" - that's the perfect word for what I do so much of the time. I need to strive less and relax more. I appreciate your insights and comments so much, Susan. You're such a sweetie!

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  7. Thank you for sharing your personal sketchbook pages! They are beautiful and capture joy, love and adventure.

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    1. You're welcome, Cheryl. Thanks for reading my blog and taking the time to comment. I love knowing that real people are out there connecting with what I've shared of myself.

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  8. Happy anniversary, Leslie and Fred! I think your use of color and sense of design is consistent with both sizes. Your voice comes through. :-)

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  9. Wendy Stewart McMillanJune 9, 2017 at 9:35 AM

    Happy belated anniversary! What a milestone...40 years is something to be proud of! I love when you are totally real with us about how things occur for you-it never fails to help me, and I'm sure others as well. Love the playfulness and freeness and the way you said "this is how I journaled before I worried what others thought...". So true! we all worry, consciously or unconsciously about how we or others will judge our 'heart' on our sleeve. This is just what I needed to hear- thanks for sharing it!

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    1. You're welcome, Wendy. I'm so glad this post was helpful to you. I guess it was good that I followed my instinct to share this journal with everyone. We all need to be reminded once in awhile that we should be painting for ourselves, not anyone else. I've always admired people who are completely themselves, who don't seem to worry about what other people think about them, but it's always been hard for me to put that out of my mind. Even now, in my 60s, those niggling thoughts intrude way too often. You'd think I would have gotten over that by now! :)

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  10. Leslie, thanks so much for sharing this journal. I love it. Being simple and just journalling is so difficult for me. I feel like I have to know the outcome before I start, so most of the time I don't even start. I am determined to get my new journal going this weekend. Can't wait for class in August!

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    1. I'm glad this spoke to you. It taught me a good lesson, and I'm determined to be looser with my journal when I leave on my trip to Provence this month. I don't know why we have to have such high expectations for ourselves in this - the point of it should really just be to have fun trying to capture our world in a simple way in watercolor. Now get out there and start that new journal! What have you got to lose? It's just a piece of paper. :)

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  11. I forgot to add, my husband and I just celebrated our 40th anniversary too!

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